María Bonilla-Gutiérrez, Albit Caban-Murillo, Gabriel Rojas-Bowe, Hector Bravo- Rivera,

Gregory J. Quirk, and Christian Bravo-Rivera


In nature when species look for food, they can encounter threatening conditions and thus experience a conflict between wanting to approach the food or to avoid the threat. During this conflict, species should make a decision that promotes their survival. However, psychological disorders such as depression and addiction are known to affect adaptive decision making. Many studies have characterized the prelimbic cortex (PL) as a key mediator of decision making, reward approach, and threat avoidance, but not a lot is known about PLs role in mediating approach/avoidance conflict. In our lab, we recreate conflict with an approach/avoidance task. In this task food-deprived rats are presented with a tone that predicts a foot-shock and at the same time a light that signals the availability of a reward. The rats also have a platform they can mount to avoid the foot-shock. During our experiments, male rats were found to behave differently on a trialto- trial basis with some trials showing the rats avoid early during the tone (avoidant) and others showing the rat avoid late during the tone (risky). To characterize the behavioral and neuronal factors that were influencing these behavioral outcomes during conflict, we studied pre-tone behavior and PL neuronal activity. Using single unit recordings as a technique, we found that PL pre-tone activity correlated with latency to avoid and that pre-tone freezing correlated with behavioral outcome. Thus, showing that pre-tone internal state can influence behavioral outcomes when male rats face conflict.

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